A controversial work by American pop artist Jeff Koons, aiming to symbolize US solidarity with France in the wake of the 2015 jihadist attacks, was unveiled in Paris Friday after becoming mired in years of controversy. Onlookers cheered and applauded as a white sheet was lifted to reveal a massive “Bouquet of Tulips”-a sculpture of a human hand grasping a multicolored bunch of flowers. Koons created the monumental work after being asked to come up with something to represent America’s solidarity with France after the 2015 Paris attacks carried out by Islamic State jihadists, which left 130 people dead.
But the proposed site for the 12-metre work-outside the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum, on an esplanade facing the Eiffel Tower-quickly ran into resistance. A site was finally chosen in a green space near the Petit Palais museum in the city centre that is partly obscured from view by trees, ending a four-year row over its location. Speaking after the ceremony attended by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and former US ambassador to France Jane Hartley, who commissioned the work, Koons expressed pleasure that the situation had been resolved.
“When some controversy came about, the city offered this location, and I have to say I think everything really worked out very, very well. “I’m very happy just to have the piece be with Parisian citizens and with the French people. And the work… feels at home.” “It’s a beautiful location,” he added. He said 80 percent of revenues from the copyright of the work will go to the victims’ families and the remaining 20 percent will go to the city for maintenance of the sculpture. Koons, seen as the king of kitsch contemporary art, told Le Figaro earlier this week he was “saddened” by the row, which he claimed was triggered by “a lot of misunderstandings and misinformation”.–AFP